Sat, Jan 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Tougher law on sex crimes involving minors hailed

HARSHER PUNISHMENT The new law increases sentences and fines for criminals who participate in a sexual transaction involving a child, and zeros in on repeat offenders

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Children's welfare groups yesterday lauded the passage of the Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act (兒童及少年性交易防治法), which will increase the length of sentences and fines for sexual crimes involving children.

The proposed amendment passed the Legislative Yuan yesterday. It will make the length of sentences for sexual crimes against children equivalent to those stated in the Criminal Code and Civil Code as well as specified in other laws.

"We are definitely glad to see the amendment being made. Children, though they may not be able to speak for themselves, deserve more respect and protection," said Alicia Wang (王育敏), Executive Director of Child Welfare League Foundation.

The amendment was pushed through by a handful of children's and women's rights groups.

Eight articles of the law were amended yesterday.

According to the new law, offenders who assist an individual under the age of 18 in engaging in a sexual transaction will face a minimum one-year jail sentence and a maximum sentence of eight years, as well as a maximum fine of NT$3 million.

An individual who intends to profit through the sexual transaction may face a three-to-ten year sentence.

A repeat offender will face a minimum five year sentence and a fine of up to NT$7 million.

An individual who introduces clients to, keeps or hides a young victim will face a one to-seven year sentence, along with a maximum NT$3 million of fine.

An offender who rapes, coerces, monitors, medicates, hypnotizes or uses any other means against a victim's will to engage in a sexual transaction will face a five to seven year sentence and a fine of NT$7 million, an increase from the NT$2 million before the amendment.

"The goal of this amendment was to increase the sentences to match those existing punishments which already exist in other laws," said Lee Chin-chu (李錦菊), a representative with the Bureau of Children under the Ministry of the Interior.

Article 1094 of the Civil Code stipulates that in circumstances where both parents cannot exercise the rights nor assume the duties in regard to a minor child, the role of guardian is assumed by close relatives.

The amended law grants a child who has been raped or coerced into engaging in a sexual activity the right to revoke the duties of her guardian by filing an application with a court.

In this amendment, the more severe punishment was chosen for the same punishments highlighted in the other laws and placed into Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act.

The Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act, which is considered a special statute, will take priority as the law used in crimes involving the use of coercion of children in sexual transactions.

Wang highlighted the amendment's focus on repeat offenders as a key provision.

According to Wang, some sex offenders may have deep-rooted problems that affect their behavior.

"To completely cure a serial offender is not very easy," Wang said. "Many who served time for sexual crimes against children are released only to repeat their crimes."

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